MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn spoke to Australia’s AndrewHaug.com about the recent passing of Vinnie Paul Abbott. Reflecting on how he got to know the PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer, Robb said: “The first time that I met Vinnie Paul was on [PANTERA‘s] ‘Vulgar Display Of Power’ tour, and they were opening for SKID ROW. And me and a couple of my buddies, we got backstage, and he was the first guy that I ran into — Vinnie Paul. And I walked up, and he was, like, a party guy. And we were hanging out, and he was just kind of cracking jokes and we were kind of busting balls. And I made a joke to him about how… I was, like, ‘I hear a couple of RATT licks on your new record, Warren DeMartini licks on there.’ And he kind of gave me this look like, ‘Oh, you caught that?’ [Laughs] And I just kind of smiled at him. And he was, like, ‘Oh, yeah! For sure, man!’ And I was, like, ‘Dude, that’s cool. I think that’s fucking awesome that you guys have channeled that…’ — he’s an awesome guitar player; Warren DeMartini‘s sick — ‘and channeled that into some heavy music.’
“That was the first time I met him,” Robb continued. “And then, five years later, MACHINE HEAD toured twice with PANTERA — we toured with them on Ozzfest and then we toured with them again on their live album. And he was a maniac. VAN HALEN was a massive influence to him, and especially [Vinnie Paul‘s brother and PANTERA guitarist] Dimebag, and they lived that VAN HALEN, crazy, over-the-top… It’s fucking getting wasted and banging chicks every night. I remember watching BLACK SABBATH play and Vinnie Paul taking this groupie under Mike Bordin‘s drum riser during the show and banging this chick under the riser in front of fucking everybody on the side of the stage, and we were all just fucking laughing our asses off. Then it became the tales of legend. And he was always down for a shot, he was always down to hang. We played festivals all over, Japan, and then in HELLYEAH, we toured with them again and then did more festivals. We did the Soundwave festival — HELLYEAH was on that — we would go and hang with him. And he was just a rager, man. Every time we saw him, it was shots of Skyy vodka or shots of Crown, and just a good vibe — always joking, always smiling. He was kind of always busting balls, which was cool to be around. And he was such an amazing drummer — just such a fucking cool style. I mean, the production of his drums changed the landscape of metal. Back in 1992, nobody had ever heard fucking drums that bright or brutal, and it was awesome, man. And [he was] just a fucking awesome, awesome dude. And gone way too soon. 54? Just too young, man.”
Asked if Vinnie Paul‘s passing and the deaths of other rock legends in recent months and years have made him adopt a healthier lifestyle on tour, Robb said: “When I’m on the road, I think you can definitely go to excess — I mean, easily. You’ve got alcohol available for free every night. You have to put boundaries and limitations on yourself based on you delivering your best show. If you’re out there fucking getting hammered for fucking 70 shows in a row or 70 nights in a row, guess what? You’re gonna not play good. And by the end of the tour, especially.
“I think, for me, it’s different in the sense that when you’re singing, drinking every night for 44 shows in a row and trying to play a three-hour show, that’s not gonna happen,” he laughed. “It’s physically not possible. Once we started doing the ‘Evening Withs…’ [where MACHINE HEAD is playing an extended set with no opening acts], I learned pretty quickly… ‘Cause I used to drink a fucking lot on stage, dude — I drank a lot on stage. I started measuring how much my pre-gig Brown Eye [a.k.a. vodka and Coke] was; I was drinking six shots before I walked onstage in my drink. And then I probably had another four or five onstage, especially if the show was good and we were playing long and feeling good. And I think just at some point, I just kind of had to step back and go… There was a couple of nights where I just didn’t drink before I went on, and I was, like, ‘Fuck! I’m singing better. I’m playing better.’ [Laughs] It was like a bumout reality check, like, ‘Fuck! I’m gonna be better if I do this.’ And I think just, over time, I was just, like, ‘I wanna fucking kill it when I go out onstage. I wanna fucking crush it. I wanna blow every motherfucker off the face of the earth. If we’re supporting somebody, playing over somebody, or just doing our own thing, I wanna be a hundred percent and fucking crush it, man.’ And I realized that if I was out there drinking every night, I couldn’t do that. My body just wouldn’t respond to… especially because I’m now doing a three-hour show.”
Flynn went on to say: “I’m not gonna put down other singers and stuff, but I’ll tell you what, man — there ain’t a lot of singers who can do what I do. I’m doing the super-brutal stuff, I’m doing the screeches, I’m doing the high cleans, I’m doing the soft, breathy stuff, I’m doing high falsetto vocals. It’s pretty full-on, man. And playing a song like ‘This Is The End’. And it just reached a point where it was, like, ‘I’m gonna chill, because I wanna fucking play the best that I can more than I need to get drunk. And I’ll save getting drunk for when I have a day off, or the night before a day off, so that I can have that next day to recover or whatever.’ And that’s kind of where I’m at now.”
MACHINE HEAD recently completed North American and European tours in support of its latest album, “Catharsis”, which came out in January.